Review: Future State: Suicide Squad trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Rounding out our Future State reviews is Future State: Suicide Squad, which variably we might call the horror-focused Future State book or the Future State book a little more on the violent heroes side.

If among these — Suicide Squad, Swamp Thing, supernatural Shazam and Black Adam — the inclusion of the Teen Titans seems unusual, look no further than new Suicide Squad writer Robbie Thompson’s recent Teen Titans run (with Adam Glass), which was among the darkest Titans runs in recent memory (yet gloriously mature and melodrama-free. You should check it out. I’ll wait). Here, Thompson deservedly has the Suicide Squad while Tim Sheridan has Teen Titans ahead of Teen Titans Academy; both of those books are now cancelled about a year in to Infinite Frontier, but I’m still eager to check out this weird interconnected corner of the DCU.

Review: Future State: Justice League trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Future State: Justice League is another of these volumes that gives me hope, you’ll forgive me, for the future. Though not flawless, where it counts the stories here are great, even spectacular. That’s Brandon Thomas' “Future State: Aquaman” above all, along with Joshua Williamson’s titular “Justice League,” Geoffrey Thorne’s " Green Lantern," and Ram V’s always-good “Justice League Dark.” Thomas and Thorne I wasn’t familiar with before, and my experience with Williamson’s Flash was rocky, but here all of them do well on characters they’ll be guiding in the Infinite Frontier era.

[Review contains spoilers]

Brandon Thomas' “Future State: Aquaman,” with art by Daniel Sampere, is simply stunning, and I’m very excited now for what Thomas has coming up in Aquaman: The Becoming and beyond. Take just the first issue, with its startling in medias res beginning (Aquaman Jackson Hyde escaping from Neptune? What?!) to what is essentially an issue-long conversation between captive and captor (with some fairly complex alien cultural mores), to the “castaway” situation in the flashback that just gets worse and worse with horror movie efficiency.

Review: Future State: Wonder Woman trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Future State: Wonder Woman is another study in contrasts as compared to the other Future State books I’ve read so far. The two Batman books and the Superman book each had their strengths, but one notable aspect was the stories all starred known characters (maybe the Next Batman being the lone exception). Batman, Nightwing, Red Hood, Catwoman, Superman, Superman (Jon Kent), Superwoman Kara Zor-El — everyone, for the most part, known quantities.

The Wonder Woman book bucks that by being, three out of four, about new characters. And bringing some diversity of character, at that. Many of these feel like rough drafts or first tries, more so than in the other Future State books but then again the other Future State stories aren’t trying to do what these stories are. But none of these are “bad” per se, well illustrated even when not well written, and it gives me hope for a Wonder Woman renaissance that springs from here and goes to “Trial of the Amazons” and beyond.

DC Trade Solicitations for June 2022 — Batman Vol. 6: Abyss, Secret Files and Earth One Complete Collection, Superman '78, Black Manta, Infinite Frontier Suicide Squad Vol. 2, Supergirl by Tom King, New Teen Titans Vol. 14

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Couple blasts from the past in the DC Comics June 2022 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations, the Batman: Earth One Complete Collection and New Teen Titans Vol. 14. The “Earth One” series took wait-for-traders by storm when it was first announced back in 2009 — we’ve been through a few iterations since then, highs and lows, but to still see the material being mined 12 years later is an amazing thing. Collecting the Batman: Earth One trilogy all together makes three good graphic novels even better, and gives us continued hope for these kinds of long-form comics releases from DC (even in-continuity?).

Equally the fourteenth(!) paperback volume of New Teen Titans seems to close a loop from back in 2010, where again we had highs and lows, fits and starts, and now, 11 years later, what seems like it might be the final volume. I was hoping we’d make it to “Titans Hunt,” but really I wasn’t sure where this would stop — maybe with issue #114, ahead of Zero Hour, with essentially the end of the original team, or all the way to #130, through Arsenal’s team with Damage and Supergirl? At a liberal 10 issues per collection, that’d still be eight more books, and I’m skeptical the market would support that. So maybe with the end of “New Teen Titans” proper (before New Titans) is where it’s at.

Other books I’m looking at for this month include the regular-series collections Batman Vol. 6: Abyss and Batman: Secret Files, Black Manta, and Suicide Squad Vol. 2. That Suicide Squad book intersects with (and collects) its “War for Earth-3” issue, while the Batman book skips over its “Shadow War” issue. Neither “War” collections have been announced yet, which reminds me — it has been seven months since we’ve seen a DC Comics catalog! Hopefully soon. Also, you know me, eager for more Tom King goodness with Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, and finally the hardcover of Robert Vendetti’s Superman '78 (now I want the Batman '89/Superman '78 crossover I never got in theaters).

Let’s check out the full list.

The Animal Man Omnibus (2022 Edition)

Reprints the Animal Man Omnibus, collecting Grant Morrison's issues #1-26 and the story from Secret Origins #39. At what point did we start calling Buddy Baker "the Animal Man"?

The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries Vol. 2

Issues #7-12 by Sholly Fisch and company. Special mention in the solicitations of the Riddler, for some reason.

Batman Vol. 6: Abyss

Collects Joshua Williamson's interstitial run on Batman between James Tynion and upcoming writer Chip Zdarsky. This is Batman #118-121 and #124; issues #122-123 are part of the "Shadow War" crossover with Robin and Deathstroke, Inc., presumably to be collected on its own.

Batman: Earth One Complete Collection

Glad to still see some life left in the Earth One books. I've been expecting this for a while, especially since publication of new Earth One books has slowed to nothing. The Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman books respectively were all meant as trilogies, so collected editions of all three volumes together should make for a particular nice, big graphic novel. Only a little sorry not to see this in hardcover. By Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, coming in August.

Batman: No Man's Land Omnibus Vol. 2

No contents listed, but the Batman: No Man's Land Omnibus Vol. 1 collected the first two volumes of the most recent "definitive" paperback collections, so there's a good chance this is volumes three and four, plus any unforeseen extras. So, something like Azrael: Agent of the Bat #58-61, Batman #569-574, Batman Chronicles #18, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #122-126, Batman: No Man's Land #0, Batman: No Man's Land Secret Files and Origins #1, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #89-94, Catwoman #75-77, Detective Comics #736-741, Nightwing #38-39, Robin #68-73, and selections from the Batman: No Man's Land Gallery.

Batman: Secret Files

I was hoping we might see some collection of James Tynion's recent Batman: Secret Files specials, or most importantly that DC wouldn't skip collecting these altogether. Said to include Batman Secret Files: The Signal #1, Batman Secret Files: Huntress #1, Batman Secret Files: Clownhunter #1, Batman Secret Files: The Gardener #1, Batman Secret Files: Peacekeeper-01 #1, and Batman Secret Files: Miracle Molly #1.

Black Manta

Collects the six-issue miniseries by Chuck Brown, plus a story from Aquaman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular, leading in to the new Aquamen series. Seems like an interesting development happening for Manta in this months solicited Aquamen comic.

Brightest Day Omnibus (2022 Edition)

Not really sure why this is being reissued, unless for the movie-prominent Aquaman and movie-adjacent Osiris. Anyway, issues #0-24 of the twice-monthly series.

The Green Lantern Season Two Vol. 2: Ultrawar

Paperback finale of the Grant Morrison series, following the hardcover. Collects issues #7-12.

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Zero – The Complete Collection

In paperback, collecting issues #1-14, featuring the Justice Society in the Injustice universe.

Legends of the Dark Knight

In hardcover, collecting the new Legends of the Dark Knight #1-8, with stories by Darick Robertson, Stephanie Phillips, Max Dunbar, Brandon Thomas, Giannis Milonogiannis, Becky Cloonan, Matthew Rosenberg, Cian Tormey, Brandon Easton, and Karl Mostert. The solicitation mentions "brand-new antagonists who will change the Batman mythos forever," which is news to me, but if you know different, let me know; I figured this series was walled off from main continuity proper.

My Buddy, Killer Croc

That there's a genre now of kids' books in which kids team up with DC villains (see also Metropolis Grove)is charming and funny, and I love all the ways DC is reinterpreting their mythos for different audiences.

New Teen Titans Vol. 14

Collects New Teen Titans #41-49, New Teen Titans Annual #4, Secret Origins #13 (Nightwing), Tales of the Teen Titans #91 (final issue; this was mostly a reprint but with one new short story), and Secret Origins Annual #3 (original Teen Titans).

The solicitation calls this the "final volume of the second New Teen Titans series," which is factually true (the series became New Titans with issue #50), but whether that means the final volume of these Titans collections or just the final volume of the second New Teen Titans iteration remains to be seen. I'll tell you it doesn't look good — this book finishes out the contents of the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 5 from 2021; there was a New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 6 solicited back in 2020, but that only collected ancillary materials. Put another way, I've never seen any indication DC plans to continue these collections into the New Titans era; then again, once upon a time the New Teen Titans Omnibuses didn't seem to plan to collect past the first series, so we ended up with more than we expected (going back nearly a decade!).


In paperback, issues #1-7 of the TV show tie-in comic. Is this show good? Do you enjoy it? Are there overt Batman nods, or would you just think it's a spy series if you didn't know otherwise?

Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Ambushed!

Previously this was said to collect issues #7-12 and the 2021 annual of the Infinite Frontier-era series. The series itself has now been cancelled, and the current solicitation lists the contents as issues #7-15. Issue #13 is the Suicide Squad tie-in to the "War for Earth-3" crossover with Teen Titans Academy (also recently cancelled) and Flash, and it's interesting that it's here — surely a War for Earth-3 collection is coming, but no news yet.

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow

In paperback in July, this is the eight-issue miniseries by Tom King and Bilquis Evely. Given King's rising star, I'm surprised this isn't hardcover — maybe a deluxe is coming later.

Superman '78

In hardcover in July, collecting issues #1-6 by Robert Venditti and Wilfredo Torres. Previously this was listed as #1-12; not exactly sure the conversion from digital to print but I hope that means it's all of it.

Teen Titans Academy Vol. 1: X Marks the Spot

In paperback in July, following the hardcover and collecting Teen Titans Academy #1-5, a selection from Infinite Frontier #0, and Teen Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook #1, and crossover issue Suicide Squad #3. Academy is cancelled with issue #15; Suicide Squad, also cancelled, collected that series in two volumes (#1-6 and #7-12). Remains to be seen if Academy can do the same or not; #6-12 is not an impossible amount to be collected for a regular monthly series, but a smidgen more than DC usually does.

More on Future State: Superman

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Continuing my look at Future State: Superman … (Missed the first half of this review? Catch up now!)

Again, more than Future State: The Next Batman and Future State: Dark Detective, the Superman book contains stories that loose themselves from Future State’s near-present — inasmuch as we might assume “Superman of Metropolis” and “Superman: Worlds of War” take place concurrent to the Magistrate threat in Gotham, stories like “Superman vs. Imperious Lex,” “Kara Zor-El: Superwoman,” “Legion of Super-Heroes,” and “House of El” take place in the future-future, even the far-flung future. When it comes down to it — short of any of the writers picking up threads of these stories later — none of these are significantly different than Futures End tie-ins or the “Legends of the Dead Earth” annual series.

Review: Future State: Superman trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Among other things, the Future State: Superman book is our first look at what the Super-titles will be like in the post-Brian Michael Bendis era. So far, no big concerns (only small ones), and especially not as pertains to main new Superman writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson (the other other “new” Superman writer, Tom Taylor, will turn out all right, I expect). Outside of Johnson, most of what’s here has generally lower stakes and is good enough for those.

Let’s establish first and foremost that I’m not particularly concerned about the “continuity” of Future State, which the Superman book even more than the two Batman ones firmly places in the realm of “imaginary stories.” But, versus the Future State Batman books, collection editor Jamie Rich or someone spent some dedicated time trying to move the main and backup stories around in this volume toward making a cohesive whole. I appreciate the attempt, as in general I like for my trades to read like all-in-one graphic novels, though where the effort fails there’s some danger of confusion.

Review: Future State: Dark Detective trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

The Future State: The Next Batman collection was no slouch, but as far as Future State and Gotham are concerned, Future State: Dark Detective is the better book. That’s good among other reasons because all the ongoing writers for these characters are here, if also some of the artists, portending good things coming out of Future State.

If there’s really any bones to pick, it’s just that Future State’s continuity still seems rather piecemeal. It’s not that any story here necessarily contradicts any others, but one must take a fairly liberal view that one story takes place before/after/around another for it all to make sense. It rather feels as though I’m reading the tie-ins to an event comic without reading the event itself (which might very well be the case!); it feels there’s a site of connective tissue lacking, though maybe I’ll find it in one of the other collections before I’m done.

Review: Future State: The Next Batman trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, March 06, 2022

As my first foray into “Future State,” the collection Future State: The Next Batman is pretty good. I can’t promise high art here, and the adage applies that if it’s not great, at least there’s a lot of it.

In this way, purposefully, The Next Batman collection follows the pattern of certain latter Dark Nights: Death Metal collections before it: an anthology of stories, often starring fan-favorite characters, but created by newer or less-often-seen writers and artists among the DC Comics set. Entirely speculation on my part, but I’d guess for DC this accomplishes keeping certain characters in play and/or giving concepts “tryouts” for full series pickup (Next Batman’s “Batgirls,” for instance), while maybe not having to pay as much as for a dedicated endeavor by their Tynion or Williamson tier?

Review: The Nice House on the Lake Vol. 1 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

I try to space out my comics reading. Issue or two of a trade a night, let the ideas percolate, you understand. Dear reader, I read two chapters of James Tynion’s The Nice House on the Lake Vol. 1 the first night and then stopped myself; the next night, I was going to read two again, but just couldn’t keep from devouring the remaining four in one gulp.

If Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None or Murder on the Orient Express hold a special place, this is a book for you. But also Lost, to be sure — and Clue, and Friends, and Rent, and A Little Life, and Mind MGMT. Paranoid, creepy, weird, timely — Nice House is the weird trip I didn’t know I needed, and it’s going to be a long wait until the next one.